Murray F. Brennan, MD, FACS, named Knight Grand Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit

Dr. Brennan

Dr. Brennan

Sir Murray F. Brennan, MD, FACS, was named a Knight Grand Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit on January 1, for his service to medicine as part of the Queen’s New Year Honours. A native New Zealander, Dr. Brennan is the Benno C. Schmidt Chair in Clinical Oncology, vice-president for international programs, and director of The Bobst International Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), New York, NY. Dr. Brennan adds knighthood to a long list of accolades that he has received throughout his distinguished career as a cancer surgeon. In 2000, he received the American College of Surgeons’ (ACS) highest honor—the Distinguished Service Award.

Crowning achievements in cancer care

Born in Auckland, Dr. Brennan received a degree in mathematics from the University of New Zealand and a medical degree from the University of Otago, Dunedin. He performed advanced laboratory and clinical work at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and the Joslin Research Laboratories, Boston, MA. After residency, Dr. Brennan joined the National Cancer Institute, where he led the surgical metabolism section. He began his career at the MSKCC in 1981 as chief of gastric and mixed tumor service. From 1985 to 2006, Dr. Brennan chaired the department of surgery at MSKCC. In 1994, MSKCC established the Murray F. Brennan Chair in Surgery. Throughout his career at MSKCC, he also has served as a professor of surgery at Cornell University in New York.

Dr. Brennan is recognized around the world for his extraordinary achievements in enhancing the medical and scientific communities’ understanding of tumor biology, in evaluating the proper role of surgery and other therapies in caring for patients with cancer, and for training young surgeons and serving as a mentor to developing surgical scientists. Dr. Brennan’s clinical and research interests have centered on surgical oncology, endocrinology, metabolism, and nutrition. He has designed and conducted numerous clinical trials, which have produced significant findings in the management of patients with soft tissue sarcomas and pancreatic cancer, and played a leading role in creating the world’s largest database of more than 10,000 sarcoma patients.

Leader of surgical organizations

An ACS Fellow since 1977, Dr. Brennan has served the College in numerous capacities. He served as ACS Second Vice-President (2004–2005) and is a former Chair of the Commission on Cancer, the Surgical Forum Committee, and the International Relations Committee. In 2012, the Fellows Leadership Society of the ACS presented the Distinguished Philanthropist Award to Dr. Brennan in recognition of his philanthropic endeavors, his service to the surgical profession, and his all-encompassing support of the College. Also in 2012, the Murray F. Brennan International Scholarship was endowed through the ACS Foundation with the support of more than 100 donors.

Dr. Brennan has played an active leadership role in many other surgical organizations. He has served as director of the American Board of Surgery and president of the Society of Surgical Oncology, the James IV Association, the Society of Clinical Surgery, the International Gastric Cancer Association, and the American Surgical Association.

Dr. Brennan is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Edinburgh, England, and Australasia; the Brazilian and Chilean Surgical colleges; the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow and Canada; a number of international surgical societies; and the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland. He has received honorary doctorates from the Universities of Edinburgh, Otago, and Gothenburg, and the University College of London. In 1995, he was honored with membership in the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

The investiture ceremony for knights will take place in May. For more information, go to,, and

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